SAN DIEGO–San Diego Oasis, a local nonprofit organization, has received funding for over 300 tech devices to distribute to low-income older adults to prevent social isolation.
The devices were donated by the San Diego Foundation, SDG&E, Gary and Mary West Foundation, and the North County COVID-19 Respond Fund, a coalition of North County San Diego regional foundations, including Coastal Community Foundation, Leichtag Foundation, and Rancho Santa Fe Foundation.
San Diego Oasis is working with low-income senior living mobile park home complexes and living facilities to coordinate qualification and distribution of the tech devices.
Last week, the first of many device distributions were held at several mobile park home complex locations in San Marcos where San Diego Oasis also provided training to the recipients to help them learn more about their new tablets, as well as how to access online classes. The organization will continue to identify older adults in need of devices and connectivity throughout San Diego County during these challenging times.
“The pandemic has moved San Diego Oasis to a ‘senior center without walls’ where our members can attend classes from the comfort and safety of their homes as they are one of the most vulnerable populations affected by the virus,” says Simona Valanciute, president and CEO, San Diego Oasis. “But for those who don’t have tech capabilities to tune into our virtual classes, the donated devices provide an opportunity for our organization to reach and engage with them, expanding our reach to an even broader audience, and allows us to support more older adults in need.”
Currently, San Diego Oasis is engaging with over 5,500 older adult members to offer online classes. However, a number of its members have expressed lack of devices either due to affordability or not understanding how to use them. The organization has been successful in providing a small number of devices and training to bring them online so they can access their classes, but there is much more to be done. With the support of The San Diego Foundation, SDG&E, Gary and Mary West Foundation and the North County COVID-19 Response Fund, San Diego Oasis will have the opportunity to reach and connect with over 300 more older adults.
San Diego Oasis members learn more about how to connect to telehealth appointments, communicate with family and friends, engage in world news, and join learning groups in topics that range from basic phone how to’s, to art, languages, history, finance, music, food, health and wellness, and even some online demonstrations of exercise and dance.
Studies show older adults ages 50 and over are in the highest risk category for isolation and loneliness. One study says that prolonged isolation and loneliness is equivalent, and as lethal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. According to the AARP, more than eight million adults are affected by isolation, and the physical health risks are detrimental. Also, just more than 12% of San Diego County’s population is age 65 and up, and is expected to double by 2030. Now, it is more important than ever for adults to understand the symptoms of social isolation and how it can be prevented – by staying engaged in the community.
Other research says isolation contributes to a higher risk of high blood pressure, obesity, anxiety, cognitive decline and even death. This population, at all income backgrounds, are experiencing this crisis. When older adults can actively engage, they have a positive attitude, feel more connected and curious to explore the world. Events like this spark confidence in older adults to adapt more digital tools to help them stay connected and use the technology in their pocket in ways they didn’t even imagine.
For more information and to get involved with San Diego Oasis, visit www.SanDiegoOasis.org or call (619) 881-6262.